13 June 2019
It was a day which changed her life forever, starting Leeds’s feminist firebrand down the path to becoming a pioneer in the fight for women’s rights.
Now, on what would have been her 146th birthday, visitors to Abbey House Museum can see trailblazing Suffragette Leonora Cohen’s century-old court summons as they discover more about the part she played in the struggles of women through the ages.
The event this Saturday will be led by Rosemary Mitchell and Hannah Stone, authors of Holding up Half the Sky, who will be retelling poetic stories of women from different places and eras, including Ancient Egypt, Tudor England and the White House.
There will be an opportunity to ask questions and for discussions about their work and visitors will also have the chance to see unique items from the Leeds Museums and Galleries collection, including Leonora’s first ever court summons, issued by London’s Bow Street Police in November 1911.
That brush with the law came after she had joined in a protest and was one of around two hundred women detained for malicious damage.
Arrested and placed in Holloway Prison for seven days, she was galvanised by her time behind bars and defended herself in court before being released.
The experience sparked a lifelong struggle and in 1913 she was again arrested and jailed, this time for hurling an iron bar through a showcase at the Tower of London in front of a crowd of startled schoolchildren.
In later life, Leonora was eventually appointed OBE, living to the age of 105, and remained a force for women’s rights right up until her death in 1978.
Nicola Pullan, Leeds Museums and Galleries curator of social history, said: “Leonora played a significant role in the struggle for women to have the right to vote and her story is an important chapter in the history of feminism.
“It’s a fitting tribute to her lifetime of dedication that we will be marking her birthday with a celebration of women through the ages who, like her, each waged their individual and collective battles for equal rights.”
The event takes place on June 15 from 10.15am until 11.30am and is free.
To book in advance, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/holding-up-half-the-sky-poetry-event-tickets-62571077778
Image above of famous Leeds Suffragette Leonora Cohen
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Notes to editors
Abbey House Museum explores social history and childhood in the Victorian era and is a fantastic family-friendly and interactive museum. Visitors can take a stroll along the beautifully recreated Victorian streets of 1850s Leeds and enter the shops and houses to discover what life was like for the Victorians. The museum’s Childhood Galleries are home to a collection of original 19th century dolls houses and toys from throughout the last century. There is a new temporary exhibition each year, each one exploring a theme inspired by the museum.